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January 24 - 25, 2016 Bird Sightings

Great Cormorant

At the tail end of Storm Jonah, Michael scans for birds along the Backshore and around the island to the Downfront. The day is cold in the 20s and the sky is clear with high winds from the storm that mostly skirts by Maine - on its way to the eastern shores of Nova Scotia. The surf along the Backshore is spectacular, especially at high tide, with sets of waves up to 20 feet. Even in these conditions he finds a new species for the PILP bird list – two Horned Grebes, a male and female. Just as important are the sightings of those longer necked grebes – the Red-necked Grebe, five of them.

The numbers of Common Eiders are still low as compared to previous years, but their 3:1 ratio of females to males is similar to what we see this time of year. Several Surf and White-winged Scoters are sighted but where are the Black Scoters that were numerous along the shore in the last few years? Over 500 scoters were seen around Freeport, with smaller numbers in Harpswell.

The other beautiful sea ducks such as the Buffleheads, two species of goldeneyes, and two species of mergansers are still navigating our shores. But where are the Long-tailed Ducks (*) seen earlier in January and December?

We can still enjoy seeing the elegant Common Loons and one Great Cormorant are along the shore. The great news is that the loons appear in greater numbers this year around Peaks Island.

The most notable sighting is that of three Bald Eagles seen Downfront. He observes them riding the thermals over Peaks Island. They soar fairly low, so they are seen in exquisite detail. A male and female along with a juvenile fly together. Is this juvenile from their clutch of last year? What stage is this pair in their 2016 nesting activities? A pair of Bald Eagles at Berry College in Georgia is currently incubating their eggs.

We hope that you enjoy this short blog with the January 24th bird list Michael has kindly offered for us, and that it will stimulate all of us to go take a look at our birds – even in the cold. So, throw on your parka, mittens, and boots; go birding; and then compare your sightings with this list below and to Michael’s list from January 1st. It is a fun way to prepare for The Great Backyard Birdcount in early February (please see last blog for information).

Please see below: Michael’s new, ‘hot off the press’, list from today - January 25.

January 24 Bird List submitted to eBird by Michael LaCombe.

30 American Black Ducks

8 Mallards

50 Common Eiders

2 Surf Scoters

4 White-winged Scoters

8 Buffleheads

6 Common Goldeneyes

2 Barrow’s Goldeneyes (male and female)

2 Common Mergansers

6 Red-breasted Mergansers

4 Common Loons

2 Horned Grebes (male and female)

5 Red-necked Grebes

1 Great Cormorant

3 Bald Eagles

20 Herring Gulls

6 Blue Jays

2 American Crows

4 European Starlings

1 Northern Cardinal (female)

January 25 Bird List:

12 American Black Ducks

30 Common Eiders

2 Long-tailed Ducks (*)

12 Buffleheads

1 Common Goldeneye (female)

2 Common Mergansers

1 Red-breasted Merganser

12 Common Loons

6 Red-necked Grebes

1 Double-crested Cormorant (In Spar Cove - diving and feeding close to shore)

1 Ring-billed Gull

12 Herring Gulls

3 Rock Pigeons (Feral Pigeon)

2 Mourning Doves

2 Blue Jays

15 European Starlings

12 House Sparrows

Reviewers: Michelle Brown, Marty, and Sam Wainright

Lists submitted to eBird: Michael LaCombe

By: Patty Wainright (photo) and Michael LaCombe


Welcome to

The Backshore Bird Blog


The objective of The Backshore Bird Blog is to share the wonder and diversity of bird species seen along the Peaks Island shore.

If you like birds...

take a look at our list of the 100 varieties of birds that have been spotted around the Island here. How many can you spot?

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